Why Nevada’s Wild Horse and Burro Populations Must Be Controlled
My family has owned and raised horses for decades. I grew up cleaning horse stalls at my mother’s riding school. My kids go to a rural school around which wild burros and mustangs roam. In fact, their school mascot is the wild mustang. I admire horses for their noble beauty and for the important role they have played in shaping the history of the American West. Wild horses and burros should always have a place in Nevada.
Prudence, however, dictates that proper management policies be implemented to control their population growth. I do not believe in euthanizing these noble creatures, but rather controlling the excess population through adoption and contraception and maintaining the wild population at a sustainable level. These necessary measures must be taken because Nevada’s wild horses and burros are damaging thousands of acres through over-grazing and trampling. I have witnessed this firsthand through my most recent ride around Nevada on the Listening Tour.
Today, Nevada’s wild horse population is 34,780 and the wild burro population is 2,931. The Calculated AML (Appropriate Management Level), however, is 12,811, making the total horse and burro population three times the estimated carrying capacity compatible with other resources. What’s more, because wild horse and burro populations typically double their size every four to five years, if no action is taken, these numbers are only expected to rise.
The uncontrolled wild horse and burro populations are threatening the future of Nevada’s native flora and fauna and are causing damage to precious wet meadows, water sources, riparian habitats and watersheds.
I have always strongly believed in the humane treatment of all animals. Our humanity requires nothing less. It is for this reason that I believe excess wild horses and burros should be controlled by adoption and contraception whenever financially and logistically possible.
Nevada’s native deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep and domestic livestock numbers are required to be controlled. Why should Nevada’s native horses and burros be an exception?
As Nevada’s governor, I will support the continuation of well-managed populations of wild horses and burros. I will honor the recommendations of the skilled resource managers and scientists employed by our federal and state resource agencies, including the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
This will result in a healthier Nevada for all.
Legal Status: Federally protected and managed under the “Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971”. Protection only applies to federal lands in the west managed by the BLM and Forest Service.